Some very basics about the new CPA

By Staff Writer

The recently introduced Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is designed to protect you from unscrupulous businesses that provide bad or unsafe goods or who try to unfairly limit your freedom of choice. It is worth understanding this Act because it offers you a number of rights that you did not have before.

The right to choose

Freedom of choice is an important principle in the Consumer Protection Act. Consumers have the right to shop around for the best prices, goods and services.

One important aspect of this is that a company may not force you to buy a bundle of goods and services, unless it will be cheaper and more convenient for you as a consumer. For example, a cellphone company can't force you to buy SMSes and airtime if you just want the airtime.

The right to safety

One of the main objectives of the Act is to ensure your safety. If a product or service you are buying could hurt you or make you sick, the company must warn you of the danger and advise you about how to use it safely.

For example, if the fumes from a cleaning product or a bottle of any poison could make you ill, the instructions must warn you as well as tell you clearly how to use it safely. If you’re injured using a product because it is defective or badly made or the instructions and warnings were not clear enough, you can now hold the retailer responsible for the harm you suffered. The retailer may in turn claim damages from the manufacturer or importer.

The right to quality

According to the CPA, all products sold to consumers are supplied with an implied warranty that they are free of defects, suitable for the use they are designed for, and capable of being used for a reasonable period of time. All goods come with a six month implied warranty of quality, during which time if any of the above exists, you will be able to get compensation, refund or exchange from the supplier.

Closing words

The CPA makes it easier for you to enforce your rights as a consumer and claim for damages or compensation when you have been seriously wronged by a company you deal with.

You can now approach the National Consumer Commissioner or Tribunal for help when a company does not live up to its responsibilities rather than going to court. This is a whole new era for consumer rights in South Africa

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